Brazile breaks out

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LAS VEGAS — Nobody expects more out of Trevor Brazile than he expects out of himself, so the nine-time world champion was determined that his mini-slump at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was going to come to an end on Monday night.

It did in the tie-down roping.

Brazile, of Decatur, Texas, roped and tied his calf in 7.1 seconds, tying for first place with Cody Ohl of Hico, Texas, in Round Five at a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center.

The $15,342 paycheck pushed Brazile over the $300,000 mark for the season in all-around earnings and stretched his lead in the tie-down roping to about $22,000 over second-place Clint Robinson of Spanish Fork, Utah.

"It's been a long four days with not a lot of pay," said Brazile, who will tie Ty Murray with seven all-around world titles if he wins this year. "It just feels good. Not anything to do with the whole big picture, the seven all-around titles or anything like that. It just goes to the fact that I worked just as hard this year as any other year and I want to reap results. Now we're getting it rolling.

"It doesn't really matter if you have a good first half or good second half as long as you have a good half."

Brazile said he had his best opportunity of the week for a fast time and he made it work, with one wrap on the tie rather than the customary two.

"You'll be seeing a lot more of that the rest of this week," Brazile said. "I'm trying to win rounds. Unless I know the calf has a tendency to try the tie or try to get up or something of that nature, I'm not going to be wasting any time on that extra wrap."

Brazile, who is also competing in team roping with partner Patrick Smith, hasn't fared well in that event either. On Monday, he broke the barrier for the second consecutive night, incurring a 10-second penalty.

He vowed he's not going to let it happen again.

"I'm not going to do it anymore," he said. "I'm just not going to let it happen. I've got 30 foot of head rope and I'm not going to let that couple of inches of breaking the barrier keep me from winning any more."

Ohl, who also won the round on Sunday night, said he was confident he could make a fast run.

"I didn't know a whole lot about this calf," he said. "I just knew he ran a good pattern and didn't kick, and that's all I ask for. If the calf doesn't kick, he can run as fast as he wants to or as slow as he wants to, as long as he gives me a chance to step my game up and win something."

For the second night in a row, Canadian cowboy Lee Graves pushed the barrier and hit it perfect to take top honors in steer wrestling.

Graves, who leads the world standings, turfed his steer in 3.5 seconds to edge defending world champion Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., by one-tenth of a second. Branquinho is in second place behind Graves, but has lost ground to him the past two rounds.

Saddle bronc rider J.J. Elshere of Quinn, S.D., also picked up his second go-round victory of the NFR. He rode Big Bend Rodeo Company's bronc Kool Toddy for 88 points on Monday.

He said the ride was a challenge from start to finish with the big bronc.

"I felt like she was trying to buck me off every jump," he said. "I was just going with her and trying to keep things going."

In bareback, two-time world champion Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., and Jared Smith of Cross Plains, Texas, split the go-round victory with identical 88.5 scores.

Mote earned his score on Delta Ship of Frontier Rodeo Company, while Smith spurred Citation of Rafter G Rodeo Company to victory.

Mote said he had his best bronc of the rodeo so far and he was able to take advantage.

"This was really the first time all week that I drew at the top of the pen," he said. "I've had good horses, but there was always a half dozen better ones than what I had. That can get at you if you let it, but I just decided to keep doing my job and sooner or later, they'd run a great horse under me and they did tonight."

Smith said he knew Citation well, having scored 81 points on him at the Heartland Series Finals and was a little worried that even if he rode, he might not be enough points to win the round.

"I thought he might not be enough horse, but he had an amazing trip tonight," Smith said. "He was outstanding and you can't knock him at all for it."

In team roping, brothers Riley and Brady Minor from Washington state took top honors in the round with a 3.8-second run.

The brothers didn't have the best luck through the first four rounds, but said they put their previous runs out of their minds.

"You've just got to know that each night it pays $17,000," Riley Minor said. "Everybody here is good and everybody struggles at some time. If you made it here, you know you're good enough to win."

In barrel racing, Sherry Cervi of Marana, Ariz., picked up her second round win, taking her horse, Stingray, around the barrels in 13.60 seconds.

"She felt great," Cervi said. "She finally turned the first barrel like she needed to. It is really fun. She is handling the pressure and I am really proud of her."

It was a tough night in the bull riding as all 15 riders came off their bulls before the 8-second whistle. It was the first time since Round Six in 1997 that all 15 riders bucked off their bulls.

The WNFR will be televised nightly on ESPN Classic and ESPN2. At the conclusion of the 10th performance on Dec. 12th, the contestants with the highest earnings in each event will be crowned as the 2009 world champion.

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